Brie with Buttered Pecan Cherry Compote- Appetizer 3

 

Cherry pecan compote over brie

When it’s appetizer time, nothing satisfies like brie served with a decadent topping.  My Brie with Buttered Pecans and Cherries is hard to beat.  The tart fruit and warm pecans complement the creamy texture of brie perfectly.

Serve this tasty bite with apple, French bread or crackers for a happy crowd!

Stay tuned next week when I will be sharing some of my favorite sweet bites to enjoy with your friends and families.

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Brie with Buttered Pecan Cherry Compote 

1 brie wedge

2 tablespoons butter

¾ cup chopped pecans

¾ cup dried cherries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Brown the pecans in the butter for about 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and simmer slowly until mixture is thick.  Pour warm compote over room temperature cheese and serve.

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Tomato Basil Tartlet- Appetizer 2

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Tomato, basil and cheese is without a doubt my favorite flavor profile.  I have developed many recipes over the years using this trio of ingredients and these Tomato Basil Tartlets are among the best.

This precious 3 bite appetizer is simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.   Enjoy and stay tuned for one more sensational appetizer this week!

Tomato Basil Tartlets

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 cup Gruyere cheese

¼ cup fresh basil cut in a chiffonade

2-3 Roma tomatoes cut in slices

½ teaspoon fresh thyme

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut tomatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Lay tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.  Roll out puff pastry to eliminate creases.  Using a biscuit cutter cut 12 rounds from the sheet.   Place rounds on greased baking sheet.  Mix the cheese, basil and thyme together in a small bowl.  Put a pinch on each pastry round.  Top with tomato, salt and pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until tarts are puffed and beginning to brown.

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Apple Crostini- Appetizer 1

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It is appetizer season!  Chances are you have been asked to bring an appetizer to at least one holiday party this year.  I would like to share 3 of my favorites with you this week, today, Apple Crostini.

Apple Crostini is my current appetizer crush, when I make theses I cannot stop eating them!  NO need to feel guilty since the cracker is an apple slice!

This is a recipe I developed for Dinner Party 2018 hosted by Lauren Palmer at TAOLB and Marcie and Tracy of Unique Unique Designs and myself. These beautiful photos were taken by Jet Pack Creative, thank you!!

Enjoy and stay tuned for more yummy appetizers later this week!

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Apples Crostini

2-3 large red, sweet apples such as Ambrosia or Fuji

½ lemon

4 ounces goat cheese

½ cup pistachios, roasted and chopped

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ teaspoon cinnamon plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup plus more for drizzling

Slice apples crosswise, very thin creating apple crackers.  Ambrosia and Fuji apples will not turn brown after they are cut but just to insure, rub each apple slice with lemon half.  In a small bowl combine goat cheese, cranberries, pistachios, reserve 1 teaspoon for garnish, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon syrup and mix well.  Place a scant teaspoon of the mixture on each apple cracker and spread slightly.  Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon, pistachios and a few drops of syrup.

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Thanksgiving Favorites for my Crew!

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Thanksgiving is finally here and the holiday season has officially begun!  I thought I would share my family’s favorite side dishes that I will be preparing this year for our Thanksgiving table.

The turkey is always the star of the show; for information on roasting the perfect turkey see my instructions at The Art of Living Beautifully, and thanks Lauren Palmer for this beautiful photo!

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Brandon wants Fontina Mac and Cheese~

1 pound Cavatappi pasta

1 ½ cups heavy cream

3 cups whole milk

1 tablespoons flour

2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.  Cook pasta in salted water to just al dente.  Whisk seasoning and flour into cream and milk.  Add half of the cheese to the milk mixture.  Place cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and pour milk mixture over pasta, stir to combine well.  Sprinkle top of dish with remaining cheese.  Bake 25 minutes, if top is getting too brown tent lightly with foil.  Allow dish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Brooke wants Homemade Green Bean Casserole~

1 pound of fresh or frozen green beans thawed

1 can fried onions

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup finely minced mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large saucepan, melt butter, add the mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Warm the milk and stock together in the microwave for 2 minutes, add salt, pepper and liquid and whisk well.  Cook sauce until it thickens, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add ½ of the fried onions and all of the green beans.  Toss well.  Pour mixture into a casserole dish, top with remaining onions and cook for 20-25 minutes until casserole is bubbling.

Mark wants Browned Butter Sweet Potatoes with Caramel and Pecans~

4 pounds sweet potatoes

½ stick butter

½ cup cream

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt to taste

Bake sweet potatoes in the oven set to 400 degrees until they are fork tender.  Let potatoes cool completely before removing them from their jackets.  In small chefs pan heat butter until melted, continue to cook over medium heat until it begins to brown.  Once brown, pour butter into a dish, if it stays too warm the butter can blacken and get bitter.  Meanwhile, mash potatoes with cream, sugar and cinnamon.  Add butter and mix well.  Salt the potatoes to taste before topping with Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce with Pecans

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

1½ cups chopped pecans

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat until it is amber in color and sugar is melted.  Do not stir pan, tip and swirl to help the sugar melt.  Whisk in butter and stir until combined.  Remove from heat wait 5-10 second before adding bourbon and cream.  Mixture will foam up but just keep stirring.  If mixture has lumps in it, continue to stir over low heat until they melt. Once smooth add pecans.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours, I hope it is wonderful!

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Wine~Another GIVEAWAY

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I love telling you about the treasures in our town of McKinney and Andy Doyle of McKinney Wine Merchant is definitely one of these.

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His vast knowledge of wine, winemakers and wine pairing will astound you!

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Andy brought the wine to the table for the recent Dinner Party 2018, Flavors from a Provencal Market, hosted by Lauren Palmer at The Art of Living Beautifully and Styled by Marcie Henehan and Traci Miller of Unique Unique Designs, with me as the chef!

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I was so enamored with the wine Andy chose for the main course; I wanted to share it with YOU and giveaway a bottle to one lucky subscriber.

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Silver Ghost is a $35.00 bottle, a California Cab that drinks like a $60.00 bottle.  It’s smooth and rich and for red wine lovers it pairs nicely with white meat. The name Silver Ghost pays homage to the wine producing families association with the Rolls Royce Company.

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Swing by McKinney Wine Merchant for all of wine requirements this busy holiday season; you can even call ahead for curbside pickup!

120 W Virginia St, McKinney, TX 75069 (972) 542-4636

GIVEAWAY

I am very excited to tell you that I am giving away 1 bottle of Silver Ghost! To enter, head over to Instagram @atasteofparis for all of the details and I hope YOU win!

To double your odds, write your friends name in the comment section of this post, share the post with them, if they subscribe to A Taste of Paris, you will both be entered TWICE!

GOOD LUCK!

Photos of the Dinner Party were taken and shared by Jettpack Creative
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Hand Poured Candles from France at Sharla’s!

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I love it when something really special comes to our sweet town of McKinney.  We can always count on Sharla Bush of Sharla’s Boutique to do just that and to be very generous, hint; stay tuned there might be a giveaway!

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Sharla and I share of love of France and the fabulous luxuries that are produced there. At Sharla’s, you can find many treasures from around the world but today I want to tell you about one that was over 2 years in the making.

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Several years ago, Sharla was encouraged to create her own line of candles.  After a series of serendipitous events, she was led to Paris and the oldest manufacturer of scented candles.  Rigaud in Paris produces customized scents for customers all over the world including the very best French designers.

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At this magnificent place, Sharla began the journey to create a line of exquisite candles reflecting her interpretation of how to live beautifully.

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The candles are hand poured using the finest oils into a mirrored glass container.  The containers have an etched front door and window allowing the light to shine through when the candle burns.

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Each candle is outfitted in a darling “house” box.  The boxes and fragrances are numbered 1-5; each number represents a different fragrance.

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  Sharla wanted to give the candles numbers instead of names.  “I want my clients to interpret each fragrance,” she said, “scents evoke memories and I want choosing one to be an individual experience for each guest.”

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This a silver tray full of Sharla’s candles, a gift I recently gave to my party guests.  I attached and antique key from a flea market find in Paris.

Sharla’s scent, is number 1, she describes it as encompassing her life and the olfactory senses from her past.  My favorite of the collection is number 5, what will yours be?  Please tell me!!

GIVEAWAY

I am very excited to tell you that Sharla has graciously given me 2 of her signature candles in scent number 1 for an instagram giveaway.  Head over to @atasteofparis for all of the details and I hope YOU win!

To double your odds, write your friends name in the comment section of this post, share the post and if they subscribe to A Taste of Paris, you will both be entered TWICE!

GOOD LUCK!
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Pumpkin Madeleines

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The most requested flavor of fall is without a doubt pumpkin.  I thought I would get into the act by creating a recipe for my favorite little cakes, so I present, Pumpkin Madeleines! Packed full of crave-able pumpkin and fall spices, these moist little cakes will not disappoint.  Grab a few Madeleine pans and make these for your family, they will be so glad you did!

The truth is I am not sure if I like my new leopard booties or Pumpkin Madeleines better, it’s a toss-up.  If you need a pair to spice up your wardrobe, click the link below!

ENJOY!!

Pumpkin Madeleines

¾ cup butter

3 eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¾ cup powdered sugar

1¾ cup flour

2 teaspoon vanilla

¾ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped

More butter and flour for preparing pans

Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Grease Madeleine pan generously with butter and dust with flour.  Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer.  Add pumpkin, vanilla and eggs one at a time.  Mix all spices and salt with flour in a bowl and slowly add it to the butter mixture until it is all incorporated.  Stir in nuts by hand. Place the batter into a pastry bag.  Pipe Madeleine tins most of the way full with batter.  Bake for about 16 minutes until edges are beginning to brown.  Flip pan to release cakes and prepare pan again for baking the last batch.  Cover tightly as soon as cakes cool and freeze any portion that will not be eaten the same day.

 

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Autumn in Provence~Olives

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For my last look at autumn in Provence I want to share picture of gorgeous colorful olives in the markets.

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Workers scoop large spoonfuls of olives into bags to be enjoyed by their customers.

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I am not an olive eater per say, but the olives in France taste amazing and once I start, stopping is difficult!! The olives are not pitted, making eating them a bit inconvenient but the flavor and meatiness is well worth the effort!

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There is much variety in the brining liquid and herbs used to finish the olives, a flavor for everyone.

Olive tapenade and bread is often served on the tables of  Provencal restaurants when you sit down, think salsa at a mexican restaurants. Below you will find my Green Olive Tapenade recipe, enjoy!

Green Olive Tapenade

1 ½ cups Spanish olives, pitted and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon each lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons or more olive oil

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is chunky.  Serve with French bread.

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Autumn in Provence~The Land of Lavender

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Beautiful lavender fields abound in Provence.

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By the time we arrived in September, the lavender had already been harvested for the year.  Lavender is a fragrant bushy shrub that reaches the peak of its growing cycle in late summer. This is a small lavender field depicts the recent harvest.

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Lavender is prized for its essential oils that have many medicinal properties.  It is said to have a tranquilizing effect making sleep easier as well as an antiseptic used for insect bites and treating wounds.

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Visiting the distillery was interesting.  Steam is used to extract the prized essential oils from the blooms and stems of the plant.

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Once extracted the oils are kept in plastic vats and shipped all over the world.

Lavender can be used in our food too, like in my recently published Goat Cheese Truffles or the Lavender Vanilla Scones that are sure to please!

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Lavender Vanilla Scones

3 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed

1 cup chilled buttermilk

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon edible lavender plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.  Mix extracts and vanilla seeds and lavender into the buttermilk.   Pour buttermilk into food processor and pulse until dough is formed.  Gather the dough into a ball and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead it gently not more than a dozen times.  Cut the dough in half.   Roll ½ of the dough into a circle ½ inch thick. Slice the circle like a pizza creating triangles.  Repeat with second half of dough.  Place triangles on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around edges.  Frost scones with glaze and garnish with lavender sprinkle if desired.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon vanilla

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Pinch of salt

Cream

Add all ingredients in a bowl except cream; add cream slowly until desired consistency is formed.  Drizzle tops of baked scones with glaze.

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Autumn in Provence- Through an Open Door

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. Joseph Campbell

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I adore this image from my most recent autumnal visit to Provence. It draws you in, wondering what could be on the other side of that passageway.

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It’s Friday and I am contemplating the doors that have both opened and closed in my life while sifting through photos and I am grateful for both.

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I am always curious about what is on the other side of colorful doors like this with grand adornments.

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When a door closes it can be very sad.  It’s like we are being pushed forward even though we might not feel ready; it’s times like these that faith and hope get us through.

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And just like that a window opens and things are better than you could have ever imagined.  I think this little kitty agrees!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, hug someone you love today!

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